Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, Tuesday, stated that the Federal Government will no longer invest in the repairs of the country’s refineries, and would also not concession or privatize the refineries.
This was even as the Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) Committee, Mr. Victor Nwokolo, called on the Federal Government to revoke oil blocks allocated oil and gas companies who fail to pay signature bonuses to the Federal Government and those who obtained their licenses through the back door.
In a statement by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Kachikwu stated that rather than concession or privatise the refineries, the government would encourage private sector investment and subsequent joint ownership and management of the facilities for greater efficiency.
A picture taken on September 16, 2015 shows workers trying to tie a pipe of the first refinery in Nigeria, which was built in 1965 in oil rich Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The Port Harcourt refinery is Nigeria’s oldest, built in 1965, nine years after crude was first found under the marshy soil and creeks of the delta, where the Niger river meanders to the Gulf of Guinea. Refineries in nearby Warri and Kaduna in the north central region were built in the years that followed, while a new plant was added to the same site in Port Harcourt in 1989. In recent years, however, it became a byword for corruption, a murky, state-run body where billions of dollars in revenue apparently disappeared. AFP PHOTO.
Kachikwu, who was addressing members of the House Committee who were on an oversight visit to the Ministry, explained that the Federal Government was working hard to bring in private investment capital to strengthen the refineries in order to boost the nation’s local refining capacity.
He said, “For the purpose of efficient management of the refineries, government money will not be committed to the refineries any more. Prospective private investors will bring in their money, take part in managing the refineries and from there recoup their investment.”
Reeling out some of the achievements of the Ministry, Kachikwu noted that since the deregulation of the downstream of the petroleum sector in June, the masterstroke has ensured the availability of petrol at filling stations across the country at affordable prices.
He added that the roadshows to China and India have secured for the nation Memoranda of Understandings (MOU) worth about $80 billion and that efforts are now on to give effect to the MOUs so that real money can enter into the domestic economy.
He said his next port of call in terms of a roadshow is the Gulf States from which Nigeria hopes to secure investment especially into the refinery sector.
He said he also has eyes on another commercial roadshow to the USA where he hopes to ensure that Nigeria gets back her crude oil market in that country.
Nwokolo stated that the lawmakers were in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to get first hand briefing on its activities, achievements, opportunities and challenges to enable the Committee know what support it can give for it to achieve greater results for the benefit of the national economy.
He further commended Kachikwu on the achievements so far recorded in the Ministry under his watch.